Mission

Our Mission
The Oregon Affiliate of the ACLU is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights.

We believe that the freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.

We advance and defend civil liberties and civil rights through activities that include litigation, education, and lobbying.

Who We Are
The ACLU of Oregon is an advocacy organization dedicated to preserving and advancing civil liberties and civil rights. We are organized as a private, nonprofit, membership organization with more than 37,000 members and a staff of nine. 

What We Do
It’s difficult to define civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU works on many different issues and uses many different strategies in its work.

The ACLU’s role is to be a principled visionary – not just to respond to crisis but also to create openings for change, to imagine and build a future that is better than what came before.

- View our strategic plan

How We Do It (Strategies & Tactics)
When you hear about the ACLU in the news, it is often related to our work in the courts. That work, while important, is only part of what we do. We also:

Lobby actively at the local, state, and national levels to prevent the passage of laws that would undermine civil liberties and civil rights, and we support the passage of laws that would enhance civil rights and civil liberties.

  • Review all proposed ballot initiatives filed in Oregon and monitor those that would have an impact on civil liberties and civil rights. We have helped coordinate many ballot measure campaigns.
  • With the assistance of volunteer lawyers, we provide legal assistance in cases that will establish precedent on important civil liberties and civil rights principals. This most often involves the filing of “friend of the court” briefs in cases that are already on appeal. We occasionally provide direct representation to individuals or organizations whose rights are jeopardized by government actions.
  • We do educational outreach designed to sway public opinion on civil liberties and civil rights issues. We do public speaking, publish briefing papers on specific issues, work with the news media and maintain a website with updates about issues we are currently working on.

We are...

  • A nongovernmental, nonprofit, independent organization
  • A membership organization that anyone can join for $20/yr.
  • An advocacy organization that uses its work in the courts to breathe life into the promises of the Bill of Rights.
  • An organization that will criticize politicians from any political party if their actions compromise civil liberties or civil rights.
  • An organization that fights for the right of everyone to speak their message—even those whose message we detest.
  • An organization that even our political enemies respect because we take consistent stands based on policies developed over the past 90 years.
  • An organization that educates the public about the threats to civil liberties and civil rights.
  • An organization that changes policy in a very deliberate manner after much discussion.
  • An organization that works with coalitions where the issues support/advance civil liberties and civil rights.
  • A representatively-run organization. The members elect board member representatives who vote on policy.

We are NOT...

  • A government agency
  • A lawyers group
  • A legal services provider. ACLU gets involved in only a few court cases. We do not accept individual cases unless they will either establish new legal precedents or protect civil liberties under attack.
  • A partisan political organization. ACLU does not support or oppose candidates for elective office.
  • A group that supports the free speech rights of racists because we agree with their message.
  • An organization that changes its policies when lobbying government agencies just to suit a particular popular agenda.
  • An organization that chooses issues to educate the public based on their shock value.
  • An organization that changes policies easily/lightly in response to pressure.
  • An organization that always agrees with its allies, supporters, members or coalitions.
  • An organization that has members who vote directly on ACLU policy.